Navigating MusicfestNW can leave even lifelong Portlanders looking like common tourists, standing dazed on a street corner, trying to figure out which direction to head. Every night is a treacherous journey in which one bad decision can ruin the entire evening. Don't worry, though: WW is here to help. Plotting the perfect schedule can be overwhelming, but it's not impossible. Each night of the festival, check back here to read our music experts' suggestions for making your MFNW the best damn MFNW it can be. That way, you'll never be on the receiving end of that most painful of statements: "Oh, dude, you shoulda been there!"
Friday, Sept. 6
Pioneer Courthouse Square, 7 pm
[PSYCHEDELIC ELECTRONICA] Dan Deacon has never been one to shy away from the light, be it with his animated electronic music or penchant for zany live appearances featuring light-up skulls and other various touch lights. The Baltimore psychedelic popsmith’s shows combine skittering iPods for backing tracks and synchronized shouts about Harry Potter from the crowd, but that doesn’t mean his music should be taken, ahem, lightly: His last album, America, dealt intelligently with the positive and negative fibers that weave the country together. NILINA MASON-CAMPBELL.
Pioneer Courthouse Square, 8:30 pm
[BRAIN-SCRAMBLING POP] At this point, distance might be the only thing keeping Animal Collective from breaking apart. Over the course of 15 years, the band has turned out to be far more influential than anyone could’ve guessed when it first emerged from Baltimore, playing noisy, acid-damaged freak-folk abstractions that contorted even the most avant-garde notions of songwriting. Across its first eight albums, the group shifted musical paradigms until, by 2009’s critical milestone Merriweather Post Pavilion, it achieved something resembling pop. Never content to stay in one place very long, with last year's Centipede Hz, Animal Collective returned to the chaos of its earlier work, though that may have been less of a premeditated choice than a result of the circumstances of its creation: Listening to the album, you can sense a newfound friction, of four brilliant musicians, now all with individual concerns of their own, forced to spend two months crammed together in the same room. MARK STOCK. Read the full profile here.
Holocene, 9:15 pm
[DEEP HOUSE] Today is the day you learn that Olympia has a deep house scene, and that Braxton/Palmer is a part of it, sampling pitch-shifted D’Angelo over classic 808 beats and lacing in short riffs from TLC’s “Creep,” simultaneously a nostalgic shout-out and justification for the album’s name: Creepers. MITCH LILLIE.
White Owl Social Club, 10 pm
[COMEDY] Brian Posehn has been earning a living making people laugh for more than two decades, primarily by telling fart jokes. Recently, though, Posehn has done something he once vowed to avoid: tell jokes about being a father.
“I had talked about it on my last CD, before my son was born, just about how I never wanted to be one of those comics,” Posehn says.
“The old joke was, if I ever talk about how precious my kid is, I want you to punch my baby.”
To deal with the conundrum of creating material about a topic he once considered hacky and worn out, Posehn decided to do what he does best: make more fart jokes.
On his latest standup album, the aptly titled The Fartist, Posehn manages to tackle the more difficult aspects of raising his now 4-year-old son—like how best to introduce him to the original Star Wars trilogy—while maintaining the edge that’s made him a favorite in the alt-comedy world.
“I started to notice that it didn’t matter what the topic was if the comic is good,” Posehn says. “When I first started seeing Louis C.K. talk about his kids, I was like, ‘This can be done in a fresh way if you just do your spin on it.’ I found my angle. I always knew in my heart I would find a fresh way of talking about it.”
Fatherhood isn’t the only recent change in Posehn’s life. A featured comedian in the 2007 documentary Super High Me, Doug Benson’s love letter to pot, Posehn has been weed-free for two years.
By becoming a dad and swearing off marijuana, Posehn has proven it’s never too late to grow up, even at 47. But have the changes in both lifestyle and material had a negative impact on a comic with a decidedly heavy-metal fan base?
Posehn says not at all. Chalk it up in part to some fans becoming fathers themselves, along with the staying power of various Posehn-related projects such as The Comedians of Comedyand Mr. Show. Or maybe it’s just because, like a fine wine, the best fart jokes get better with age.
“There’s a little disappointment every once and a while where [a fan] will go, ‘Hey, man, I rolled you one but I know you don’t do that anymore,’” Posehn says. “[But] there’s been no backlash at all because I’m doing my thing. It’s still me. I haven’t really changed.” MIKE ACKER.
Crystal Ballroom, 10:30 pm.
[POWER PUNK] Superchunk is never going to surprise you, and that’s among its better qualities. Over 23 years, the North Carolina stalwarts have squeezed a lot of life from just a few energetic power chords, strained-larynx hooks and a lot of punkish soul. Tenth album I Hate Music is every bit as vital as their 1990 debut, except frontman Mac McCaughan now uses his aggro-elfin whinny to ruminate on death, aging and the joys of staying at home. MATTHEW SINGER.
Holocene, 11:15 pm.
[ELECTRO R&B] Natasha Kmeto can’t get no satisfaction, and it’s killing her. On her previous EPs, the Portland future soul singer-producer humanized the glitched-out rhythms and Richter-shifting bass of modern EDM by cutting them with vocal hooks straight off an Aaliyah greatest-hits set. But her recently released second album is called Crisis for a reason. It doesn’t writhe in ecstasy so much as in the ache of being deprived of it, with beats that feel hollowed out and infused with black-light moodiness. MATTHEW SINGER.
Doug Fir Lounge, midnight
[SOUL] On Landing on a Hundred, his first album in a decade, Cody Chesnutt sounds like a changed man. In 2002, he released The Headphone Masterpiece, a 36-track burst of unfiltered creative madness that was, at turns, raunchy and righteous. His latest documents Chesnutt’s period of spiritual “cleansing,” with songs chastising himself for past misogyny and celebrating the birth of his son, against a backdrop of bright, classic soul. MATTHEW SINGER.
"I've known Cody in the L.A scene for quite a while. He performed at the Temple Bar, and his set was hella Sick! Big fan of his albums, can't wait to hear the new music and take in the live performance. I remember the song he did with the Roots, called 'The Seed,' that blew him up, but I also remember that song as an original, with his own band. Both versions were both killer. This is going to be exciting! "—Tre "Slimkid3" Hardson of the Pharcyde.
Holocene, 12:30 am.
[GLITCH-HOP] Prefuse 73 sounded like nobody else in 2001. With hip-hop snippets and hand claps hiccupping into clipped rhythms under a warm blanket of jazz organ, its sound tapped into the essence of summer in the city. In the intervening years, mastermind Guillermo Scott Herren has taken so many excursions—from freak folk to chillwave to Flaming Lips collabs—he sounds nothing like himself anymore. But then you hear the new track—all transcendental backward strings and skittery click beats—and bam! It’s summer again. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.